Cruising is often described (by cruisers) as “Fixing your boat in exotic places”.
That’s a joke. Hear me laughing?
Well, as I’ve mentioned before, we left Sionna alone in the storage yard for a lot longer than we intended, and boats really don’t like to be stored. Strange as it seems, they seem to deteriorate faster when they’re NOT being used than when they are.
Certainly that’s what we’ve found as we’ve worked like servants the last three weeks, getting Sionna ready to launch. Leak repairs, failed fasteners, epoxy and paint, and cleaning, cleaning, cleaning… That’s been our lives.
But the boat always bats last. When we launched on Tuesday, we really felt like we’d done all that was needed, and had her well prepared for the season and trip home to Maine, right down to the shiny paint on her pretty little bottom.
But Sionna had one more trick up her sleeve, and she waited until we were in the water to show her hand.
Boats like Sionna cool their engines by pumping sea water through a heat exchanger. It’s the same principal as a car radiator, except using water instead of air. Trouble is, sea water is salty, and therefore corrosive. After the water has cooled the engine, it’s injected into the exhaust to cool that, and the device that does the injecting is called a “Mixing Elbow” – and mixing elbows are troublesome.
See the big black hose? That’s the outlet for exhaust and water leaving the elbow, and the small black hose near the top of the silver elbow is the water injection line from the engine block into the exhaust. Right there – where the water is supposed to meet the exhaust gasses – is where Sionna’s system was plugged when we started the engine, just minutes after launch. It’s a common problem, but one we’ve never encountered before.
Internet to the rescue! I tried several “easy” solutions, but the blockage was just too complete, and ultimately I removed the whole assembly (see the lead photo), laid it on the dock, and poured Muriatic Acid into the water inlet port repeatedly, rinsing with water in between, until finally the acid foamed out green and sulfur-smelling and opened the water passage again.
Sionna now has better cooling water flow than she’s had since we took over her care, the engine is happy, and we spent only $11.00 (and about 6 hours of our labor!) on the fix – a bargain!
Pink bubbly all around, including a drop for the good ship Sionna!
Right now we’re anchored off Cattle Dock Point, Near Port Charlotte, FL, and tomorrow plan to make our way to Cayo Costa Island, maybe for a couple days before we continue south. We’re moving, but we’re also recovering from the intensity of launching our Old Fat Boat. We’re taking it slow.